All spiritual traditons emphasize the importance of freeing ourselves from drama because drama causes suffering. I beg to differ. Drama helps us to grow and suffering is OK. In today’s walky, I explore the importance of human drama and how drama reshapes our entire identity and experience of being human. 😉
For those who haven’t heard of him, xkcdHatGuy has remained invisible for 3 years, after leaving an interesting set of very wise videos.
TSM80 : Choppy school, faith and trust in the power of life, The 5 Remembrances, life’s impermanance and uncertainty
In today’s monologue I explore the issue of faith and trust and reflect on what we can learn from young lambs and old ladies, about the power of will and our desire to live. I also reflect on the 5 Remembrances, life’s impermanence and uncertainty.
Enjoy ! 😉
Lord Long Hair.
There but for the Grace of God go I…
And so I am reminded every time I spend time among people in towns and cities how fortunate I am. When I look at all those who have less opportunity in this world, I realize how easily it could be me. One small mistake and I am out of a home. Skip a payment on my credit card (haven’t used it in 10 years but still paying off some bankers BMW) and the debt collectors will be after me. Miss a payment on my car and it’s no legs. Yet here I am in Australia, in a country with a wonderful healthcare and welfare system and someone like me – who is now almost 3 years on disability healing from tumours, is fortunate enough to have the support I need to live in a home, have money to buy food for myself and my son, to pay my debts, to pay for my car, to put fuel in my car and travel a little here and there and enjoy the luxury of a book or a CD now and then. It’s hard financially right now but I know that everything comes to pass. And I still have so much more than those who have nothing.
Working as a therapist and project developer/coordinator, taught me how easily things go astray and how the best laid plans come apart. I was fortunate to have a good education, which laid the foundation for opportunity. But many of the people I worked with, did not have that and so live trapped in the cycle of poverty.
A childhood spent growing up 3 months of the year in Hong Kong, taught me the meaning of haves and have nots. When as a teen I lurked and snooped around the famous Walled City (then the densest population centre on Earth), I saw how blessed my life was with opportunity to live in two countries and fly half way around the world and have food, clothing, a home, a family and a good education.
More than anything, opportunity has given me perspective. And perspective has helped me to find my place in this world and see how I am just like every other human being in so many ways.
I see so many of the rich, middle class and poor, who ignore the needs of the truly destitute and I never understand such ignorance. I feel that we have an obligation to the heart of all humans, to see suffering and to alleviate it where we can – especially when others suffer because they can’t meet their own basic needs.
There in lay so many opportunities to do good with our new technologies. We are so connected digitally, that a man suffering on the streets of a town we will never visit, can bring us to tears and pull money out of our pockets from the desire to alleviate his suffering. That truly is what our ET friends are trying to teach us – to feel our connection to ALL OF LIFE and to do what we can to EASE IT’S SUFFERING. And it really is so easy.
I’m a wuss. I suffer from something I call “B GRADE ITIS” – I sob uncontrollably during really bad movies and sentimental movies. I love avant garde stuff and Anime but it’s the popular stuff – Forrest Gump, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Cast Away, Storm Boy, etc that really gets me going. I think it’s because for so many years I suppressed so much feeling. So for at least the last 8 years (since my first tumour was found), I’ve had uncontrollable moments of sobbing. But it’s not just during films. Sometimes it will happen for no real reason. I’ll be thinking about someone or some person I’ve seen or met or I’ll be thinking about a forest that’s been butchered or an animal that’s been hurt or killed or a tree that’s been cut down and all of a sudden, wham bam, the flood gates are open. Some of you might remember my tumours secrete hormones. Maybe, as I’ve said before, they’re just trying to make me FEEL. I once cried when I watched a cockroach die. I’ve cried when birds I rescued died unexpectedly and I cried when I let frogs I raised from the tadpole go. I even cry when my son walks on ants that live outside my bedroom, who migrate back and forth every day. Maybe, contact with the ETs have aroused a deep empathy in me. Maybe it’s all these things. I just don’t know. But I can’t help it.
When I was a little boy I was told I was too sensitive. Especially when I cried over the dead birds I found. Later as an adolescent I was told to “Get over it. Real men don’t cry !” So I spent the next 22 years of my life learning how not to cry. It’s a story replicated throughout the human race.
It’s so easy to feel another’s suffering and to resonate with their heart. And it’s so easy to help alleviate suffering. Darci, Janet, Julia, Derek, Mname, Alison – you all know what I mean. But to do that, we have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. No point think your better than anyone else or that a non duality (oneness) approach will solve everything. We are defined by our individuality and relationship to our world. Man cannot function as an island, much as we might want to be. Islands turn into tragedies and serial killers.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so driven to create and I would devote all my energy to alleviating suffering. But I’m selfish and I don’t do that. But perhaps over time, I can create a body of work that moves the heart and helps to alleviate a little suffering here and there.
Pay it forward is really such a simple idea and such an easy thing to do. Sometimes it takes money and sometimes it just takes a little love.
Relevant Links :
In this brief dialogue (yes it really is brief !), I talk a little about the gaps we leave behind. Let me know your opinion on this subject !
Happy listening ! 😉
Many years ago, I was a keen long distance runner. I had dreams of doing a solo crossing of Australia after I read my first Novel “Flanigan’s Run” and I watched 61 year old dairy farmer Cliff Young run the first Sydney to Melbourne race in 1983. But age, a child, losing a kidney and tumours put a stop to all that. From time to time the dream comes to visit but I think it’s just youthful fantasy ! If ever I did it, I would walk and walk very slowly.
Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated with other people who go on extreme journeys. For a long time I was fascinated with Antarctic journeys and read everything I could on the subject. I also read about journeys to the Arctic. My favourite books were :
- Scott’s Last Journey by Peter King http://www.amazon.com/Scotts-Journey-Robert-Falcon-Scott/dp/006019670X
- With Scott to the Pole http://www.amazon.com/With-Scott-Pole-Expedition-1910-1913/dp/0747569681
- Icemen : A History of the Arctic and Its Explorers by Mick Conefrey and Tim Jordan http://www.amazon.com/Icemen-Mick-Conefrey/dp/0752224476
- We Die Alone by David Howarth http://www.amazon.com/We-Die-Alone-Escape-Endurance/dp/1599210630
- The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett (fiction) http://www.amazon.com/The-Voyage-Narwhal-A-Novel/dp/0393319504.
I was conscious that most people who went to the poles were either extremely driven ego maniacs, people in search of something elusive or people who wanted to discover themselves.
I’ve always wanted to go to Antarctica but it’s not easy to get a foot in the door. You have to have something significant to contribute to your field of endeavour. i thought I’d eventually get there as a writer (not this type of writer !). Gone are my days of scientific research and studying people. But who knows, anything is possible.
People take on extreme journeys for all kinds of reasons but often it’s for a special cause – the environment, gay rights, global warming, against the war, indigenous rights, women’s rights, cancer etc. You name it, someone is out there taking an extreme journey for that cause. Forrest Gump’s followers were a testament to that ! You can run, ride or walk wearing nothing at all or dress up as your favourite character. You can do it solo, with a team or have someone tag along to look out for you.
Humans take on all kinds of extreme journeys. We make the body move by running, walking, running or walking backwards, swimming, flying through the air or climbing. And then we fly, sail, dive, climb or do things to the body to break down the ego (or strengthen it). We take journeys to find ourselves (not that we were ever lost), to raise awareness, to provoke a response, to grow spiritually, to see what our body’s and mind’s can endure, to be the first or follow in the footsteps of others, or to find God. We always seem to have a reason. But sometimes like Forrest Gump, we take extreme journeys for no reason at all. At least it seems that way at the beginning.
Sometimes our extreme journeys help us to grow up or to evolve spiritually and sometimes they seem to help us to escape who we think we are, the places we came from, people we no longer want in our lives, our past and all the things that would confine us. But no matter how hard we try, we are still who we are and the I is still the I.
I know a woman who has climbed the highest mountains on every continent. But when she’s home for more than a month, she gets severely depressed. So she rushes off to help children in Nepal or somewhere else exotic, oblivious to the needs of poor Aboriginal children in her own community. I once met a man who traveled with nothing but a bible, offering the word of God to anyone who would listen.
Sometimes we undertake extreme journeys because we have to. My father used to fly P-3C Orions around across the oceans that surround Australia doing maritime surveillance. He’d frequently fly for 12 or more hours, doing his job, protecting our country. Later he would fly some of the longest commercial airliner routes in the world. He’d come home exhausted and then do it all again a few days later. One of my uncles used to be a truck driver and for many years he drove from Melbourne to Perth and then back to Melbourne and up to Brisbane and back to Melbourne again.A total of 10,400 km in less than a week. Today he only drives 900 km per day 4 days a week. I had a cousin in the country who used to travel 200 km each way to school, before the school on the air was available. And no doubt you’ve heard about children in many remote regions of the world, going to extreme lengths and taking extreme risks, just to get an education.
But it’s not just humans, who take on extreme journeys. Many animal species do too. When I lived on the coast I heard about eels who leave the mouth of the Hopkins River in Warrnambool (southern Victoria) and travel to the Timor Sea (on the far north west coast of Australia) – a journey that might be close to 10,000 km each way and recently a cousin of mine, told me that she has been doing DNA profiling on a lobster that travels from Western and Eastern Tasmania, all the way to New Zealand (a one way journey of almost 7 hours by plane). When I was on the coast I was fortunate to witness one half of the life of the Short Tailed Shearwater, a bird that migrates 15,000 km up to the Aleutian Islands near Alaska.
A few years ago I passed a man on the highway, who I had seen on television. He was from Queensland and had travelled 2,500 km on foot to visit his sister here in Victoria. He lived on the road, where he ate the odd roadkill and food and drink that other people had tossed out of their car windows. I always wanted to talk to him but I never could find him again. I can only imagine the taunts he endured and the dangers he escaped. But most of all I am curious about what forces a man into such an extreme journey of isolation from his fellow human beings. That man spent more than 20 years living on the road. He liked his own company and the freedom of being a “man without an official identity.” Such people exist everywhere on Earth.
People also take on extreme journeys of deprivation to cleanse some part of themselves. They go without water or food or air or sunlight in the misguided belief that they will reach some point of enlightenment or perfect health. In a more ordinary way, people everywhere go on diets to cleanse their heart, their liver, their gall bladder, their brain. You name it, there’s a diet for some problem. Some of you will have heard of the Indian Aghori – an extreme sect of Sadhus, who eat human flesh and excrement and do all kinds of objectionable things, because they believe they are one with everything and that they will merge with the absolute, if they lose all sense of identity and the need to protect the self. Such an extreme journey, seems to miss the point of the Buddha’s teaching on the middle way (the avoidance of extremes) and seems to me to reflect deep conditioning and a lack of awareness of the possibilities for human experience.
Many years after Cliff Young finished running ultramarathons, I drove past him not far from where he lived in Beech Forest. I gave him a big wave and he waved back. He ran in gum boots most of the time or crappy KT26 sneakers (the Kmart el cheapo). But when I saw him that day, I saw a man who loved what he did. He didn’t need a reason to do it.
I’ve heard of all kinds of journeys. And no doubt you’ve experienced some of them your self or met others who have undertaken them. We are all on a journey somewhere. Our ultimately journey will take us from the separate self, back to the Greater Self, when all sense of individuality merges into the Light. But until then, anything is possible, as part of the human condition.
We sure are a weird mob !
More reading here :
Enjoy ! 😉